(July 8, 2016) Recently, Tong Wu, of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, led a team of researchers who have discovered that manufacturers can create 3D printed heat sinks that can perform as well as conventional heat sinks by employing an annealing process.
The research project compared the performance of 3D printed aluminum heat sinks to non-printed aluminum heat sinks, noting the “differences in composition between their chosen 3D printing alloy (A1_AM) and conventional alloy (A1_6061),” reported 3ders.org.
“The 3D printed sink fared less well at lower temperatures (70°C), with the “chemistry and microstructural differences” between the two alloys causing a 10% performance difference,” said 3ders, “Wu and co were hopeful that, by employing a simple annealing process, they could bring the 3D printed heat sink up to a similar level of performance to that of its conventionally manufactured counterpart.”
According to 3ders, “The researchers found that, while annealing the 3D printed alloy at 100°C produced negligible differences in its thermal performance, annealing at 300°C produced a telling difference; so much so, in fact, that the performance of the annealed 3D printed heat sink became equal to that of the non-printed heat sink. This optimized 3D printed heat sink demonstrated a 22.8% reduction in junction temperature and a 33% reduction in weight compared to its untreated predecessor.”
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